A lot is being written these days about the concept of “Aging in Place.” From short articles in newspapers to entire books dedicated to the subject, there are many terrific sources of information for people who have decided to “stay put” during their golden years.
If you are approaching retirement age or have already passed that life milestone, it’s never too early to start thinking about where you plan to live later in life. Whether or not you’ve decided to age in place, here are a few thoughts for consideration:
- Safety, comfort, and happiness are paramount! When you think about living in your home as you grow older, is it going to suit your lifestyle and physical needs?
- Living on a single level is optimal. If your current home isn’t on one level, can you remodel to include a bedroom and full bath on the first floor? Alternatively, can you install a stairlift to safely move you up and down the steps? If not, perhaps moving to a new home with a single level floor plan is a better solution.
- Think about what you do and where you spend most of your time in your home. Are these rooms easy to move around in? Are there large pieces of furniture creating “road blocks” or a maze of your walkways? Is there adequate space to move through hallways and doorways with a walker or wheelchair should you need to?
- Can you reach things you need in kitchen cabinets and the pantry without getting on a stool or chair? If not, move items you frequently use onto shelves within reach. Same thing for your bathroom, closets, and other storage areas.
- Speaking of bathrooms, are you climbing into a tub to shower or bathe? If you are, consider replacing the old tub with a low-to-no threshold shower or walk-in bathtub. Preventing falls – especially falls on hard tile flooring – is essential to home safety.
- Do you have steps entering your home? Maybe two or three as you enter through the garage? Is there a handrail there? You might be thinking, “I don’t need a handrail for two steps.” Add one or a grab bar today. Chances are: you or a loved one will need it eventually.
- Grab bars are great for small spaces where you’ll need extra stabilization, like bathrooms and bedrooms. Consider where these easy to install fixtures could benefit you.
- Does your furniture meet your comfort needs today and will it in the future? What about the height of your mattress and favorite chair? Are they easy to get in and out of? If not, consider new furniture or making modifications to existing furniture to make it easier on yourself.
If you prefer to stay in your home for the long haul, start planning and taking steps today to improve the safety and functionality of your home. Begin with an assessment of your entire living space (indoor and out) and consider what life will look like years down the road. Could you develop mobility issues? Will you have the muscle strength to climb stairs? Being prepared for what life and health changes will bring is key to living comfortably and happily in your home.